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  • You will find that there are three types of schools in Perth and Western Australia: Government, Catholic and Independent Schools. Scroll down for further information on the different types of school.
  • Children can start school in Western Australia if they turn 6 years of age by June 30th in the year they enrol. Children must be enrolled, by law, when they turn 6 years old. If you are not sure, in the case of mid year birthdays, the fashion is to hold children back till the following year.
  • Late January is when the school year begins and it  finishes in December. Schools have 4 terms with breaks of 2 to 3  weeks in between The  summer break is between 6 -8 weeks. Private schoolswill often have shorter terms and longer holidays. The school day runs from between 8.30-9am to between 3-3.30pm Monday to Friday.
  • The principal will decide whether a child can be accelerated to a higher class based on academic ability.
  • Overseas residents in some states pay a higher school fees. Overseas residents in Victoria, Queensland, South Australia do not pay higher school fees.  Since Jan 2015, Western Australia has brought in a tuition fee for families on 457 Visas (temporary skilled workers) whose children go to  public schools in Western Australia. The fee is $4,000 per family each year, no matter how many children a family have enrolled in public schools.
    Students who come into Australia on a short stay bridging visa may need to pay higher school fees. Look at the websites for the individual state and territories education departments (listed below).
  • Private school fees start from around $2000 (some Catholic primary schools)  to $35,000 (some independent private schools). For students who do not hold an Australian passport and their parents or carers are not Australian residents there can also be higher private school fees han those paid by australian residets. University fees, for international non residents, are required to be paid in full each term.
  • Additional schooling costs are uniforms, books, school camps and excursions, in some cases, contribution to the building fund or similar and general fundraising efforts. Fundraising is a great way to meet your local school commuity.
  • The majority of schools do not offer free lunches. Most students take lunch to school as well as snacks for morning recess. Canteen facilities are often staffed by parents from the school and organised on a voluntary basis.
  • Uniforms. Most independent schools have a very strict uniform code and this can cost around $800 + while state school unforms are less expensive. Many schools have a second hand department where you can buy uniform. The uniform costs for public schools are less and they also have second hand departments. Buying uniform from the school’s second hand shop is regarded as supportive of the school.
  • Sport plays a major role in school life with an emphasis on competitive sport. In Primary school, students are involved in sport at least one day a week. High school sport may also be played on Saturday mornings as well as after school during the week. Many private schools make sport compulsory even at weekends. Schools will offer many and varied sports and many students also join local sporting clubs (soccer, rugby, netball etc) which is a wonderful way to become part of your sporting community.   As there is such an emphasis on the beach in Australia parents children usually take swimming lessons from an early age and schools run swim programs.
  •  Bullying is strongly discouraged in schools. Action plans and support systems are in place to help students who are being bullied.
  • A National Curriculum is not yet in place and education is administered by the individual state.
  • The school system consists of Primary School- up to Year 6 and High School from Year 7-Year12. Children attend school until Year 10 and if they leave they receive a junior high school certificate – not a full high school certificate.  At Year 10 students can stay on to complete their full school certificate*, train as an apprentice in a trade or other vocational training or join the work force.
  • The National Education authority is called the Department of Education, Science and Training (DEST) – Go to 
  • Comparability of Australian and overseas qualifications is shown at : 
  • Home schooling is a legal option and parents take on full responsibility for educating their children at home by following the normal curriculum. Go to
  • LOTE is an acronym for Languages Other than English. In primary schools ususually one language other than English is offered  while in  secondary school alternate or additional languages are taught.
  • Multiculturalism is prevalent and specialist English as a second language (ESL) teachers support children with language difficulties. In Western Australia  Introductory English Centres (IEC) are for students with little or no English language skills. They can learn at these centres for up to 2 years. See
  • There are three types of schools in Western Australia: Government, Catholic and Independent Schools

Government Schools (referred to as Public/State Schools)

Local Primary Schools

There are many good quality primary schools in Western Australia and in most cases you are eligible for a place if you live within the school’s catchment area. Good areas tend to have good local schools, so often housing is chosen based on the schools zoning. Class sizes can be high (up to 35 students to one teacher) but most parents are happy with the quality of schooling for these formative years. The annual costs for Australian residents are very low, about $500 per year but there is usually a significant amount of in house school fundraising. Some overseas residents do pay tuition fees. (see below – Costs)Temporary residents (on a subclass 457 visa) pay the additional cost, although not all states and territories enforce it. Permanent residents have same rights as citizens and only pay a small contribution (a few hundred dollars a year in average).

Local State High Schools

 When it comes time to go to high school (Year 8 – age 12+), the number of state schools decreases but the relevant catchment areas become much larger. The reputation of state high schools can vary considerably.  Some schools achieve much better results and have far better on site facilities. The number of children attending a school increases the funding allowance. There are a number of state selective high schools that have a strong academic slant and a good reputation. To gain admission to these schools, students must sit the Selective High Schools Test the year before entry. For some entry is in Year Seven, others have entry in Year nine. There is a high demand for these places and exams are taken a year prior to entry, so it is often not an option for ex pats moving to Australia mid way through the school year. Students can finish their schooling in Year 10 or continue through to year 12 at which stage they will receive a high school graduation certificate.

*This certificate is known as a High School Certificate (HSC) in NSW, a Victorian Certificate of Education (VCE) in Victoria, a High School Certificate in ACT, an NT Certificate of Education in the Northern Territory, a Queensland Certificate of education (QCE) in Queensland, a South Australia Certificate of Education in SA. the Tasmanian Certificate of Education, or TCE in Tasmania and the Western Australian Certificate of Education (WACE) in Western Australia.


Public/State School in Australia– What will it cost me?

Overseas residents in some states pay a higher premium of school fees in Australia.

For NSW are expect to pay approx $4500 per year

Tasmania up to $5,500 per year (but 457 and 574 visa holders are exempt)

NT - approx $8000 per year (but holders of many skilled migration visas are exempt).

Victoria, Queensland, South Australia  do not charge overseas visitors a higher premium.

Western Australia in January 2015  introduced a tuition fee for families on 457 Visas (temporary skilled workers) whose children attend public schools in this State. The fee is $4,000 per family each year, regardless of the number of children a family have enrolled in public schools.

Please note: Students who are initially on a short stay bridging visa may be required to pay higher school fees.

For further information go to the individual state and territories education department

Department of Education by State and Territory:









Independent Schools

Roughly 15% of children attend Private or Independent schools. Many of them are single sex schools and most have boarding facilities. Many of these schools have a link with the church or an alternative teaching philosophy such as Montessori or Rudolph Steiner. The French School and German school in Sydney are popular options with expatriates. A few Independent schools now offer the IB (International Baccalaureate) which is also popular option with ex pats due to its portability. There is some prestige associated with attending Private school but for many the high fee structure prevents this being an option. Despite the high fees, demand for places is high, especially with those considered the ‘best’ schools and many parents enrol their children at birth. The earlier you can apply/enrol your children the better, spaces tend to be sparser for boys and in the earlier years of school.


Catholic Schools

Catholic schools account two thirds of non-government schools and the school fees are usually considerably lower than in the rest of the private sector. Although the majority of students accepted are Catholic, the schools are not exclusive but students should expect a strong religious ethos. The costs at these schools can often be less than the levy paid by overseas residents at public schools, making it a popular option with expats. Most catholic schools will take catholic students as a priority and will expect you to show a baptism certificate and to live within the parish zone.

For information of Universities and Tafe (further education) see relevant sections.


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